Jenn Woodall, award-winning creator of Girls, now unleashes Magical Beatdown; a no-holds-barred new series tackling the street harassment faced by women on a daily basis.
Working exclusively in pink and blue, colours traditionally associated with binary gender distinctions, issue #1 sees Woodall introduce her heroine Fujiko – a high-score-holding arcade gamer by day, and Punisher-via-Sailor-Moon-style vigilante by night – as she undergoes the magical transformation from schoolgirl to superhero. When a joyous occasion is suddenly turned sour by a toxic male encounter, Fujiko calls upon her magical jewellery – a typically ‘feminine’ talisman – to undergo an empowering metamorphosis.
As Fujiko unleashes maximum retribution on the male tormentors who dare catcall her or instruct her behaviour, Woodall’s ruthless yet fun-loving depictions of graphic violence call to mind Benjamin Marra’s Terror Assaulter, with a feminist twist. Meanwhile, the transfiguration of Fujiko from unassuming to assassin plays on the classic makeover tropes we most typically see in romantic fiction. Her neat bob becomes a flowing mane, her lips adopt a lick of colour, and her glasses are done away with; only to be replaced with a badass eye patch. The shirt of her school uniform sheds its sleeves, revealing large heart-shaped tattoos on either arm, and delivering a heroine who literally wears her heart on her sleeves. Distinctions between fantasy and reality are blurred, with blue tones representing the schoolgirl Fujiko, and pink taking over when her killer alter ego is in charge. In other words, pink is powerful, and femininity is not a weakness, as suggested by her male detractors, but a wellspring of strength both physical and emotional.
Where this more action-based first issue serves primarily as an introduction to Fujiko the surprising street fighter, future instalments promise to build more upon her audacious exploits as a societal defender, and expand upon her interpersonal relationships as a young lesbian woman. A series that is as pretty as it is powerful, Magical Beatdown toes a risqué line between young adult messages and R-rated language and violence. Somewhere between the two, the series is sure to find its audience.
Jenn Woodall (W/A) • Silver Sprocket, $6.00
Review by Ally Russell